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Margaret Evans Pregnant

Alice Neel American

Not on view

Neel was one of history’s greatest, most incisive painters of motherhood. Avoiding romantic sentiment, she painted mothers before and after giving birth, including a woman named Margaret Evans, the wife of a friend who was expectant with twins. Here Neel brings her usual candor and acumen to bear on the drama of pregnancy, a complex, life-changing experience unique to women and whose physical and psychological intensity are rarely acknowledged in either popular culture or Western art. Neel lavished attention on precisely those characteristics of the prepartum body that society prefers to shield from view, using layer after layer of paint to render Evans’s swollen abdomen, enlarged nipples, linea nigra, and the mottled flesh of her lower legs.

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Margaret Evans Pregnant, Alice Neel (American, Merion Square, Pennsylvania 1900–1984 New York), Oil on canvas

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Photo by Kerry McFate